Meetingseries examines public opinion

Published on Thu, Sep 7, 2006 by ara Nelson

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Meeting series examines public opinion

By Tara Nelson

The city of Blaine will hold a series of meetings this month examining public opinion from the ground up.

“In the past, we called them neighborhood meetings,” said Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic. “They’re just general opportunities for the citizens to talk about whatever they want. We’re not coming in with an agenda and we’re not going to have any presentations or anything like that.”

The meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m., September 13 at the Semiahmoo Fire Station, and 7 p.m., September 20 at the Blaine Community Center at 763 G Street and are designed to give city council a better feel for what Blaine residents think are important issues.

Participants from all areas of Blaine are invited to bring their comments and concerns for discussion at the meetings.

“It’s basically an opportunity for people to talk to the city council and the staff about the issues on their mind,” Tomsic said. “They set the agenda; we don’t.”

Tomsic said the city started the meetings approximately six years ago as an annual event, but participation dwindled the first two years so the city has switched to a semi-annual basis. The next series of community meetings will be in 2008.

Airport meetings
The city has also scheduled a public hearing to present the final report by the Airport Alternative Use committee to the city council and public at 7 p.m. September 18, at the Blaine Community Center.

Alternative use committee members and the consultants are scheduled to make a presentation of their findings on the feasibility of alternative uses to the Blaine municipal airport.

“They’ll basically be saying, ‘If there’s not an airport in Blaine, here’s what we think the property will be best used for,’” Tomsic said.

A second report conducted by city attorney Jon Sitkin will examine the economic feasibility of closing the airport.

That report will be released during an executive session on September 11, which is closed to the public because it deals with possible litigation that could arise from breaking leases with current airport tenants.

“We’re talking about legal contracts, for which we may end up in court,” Tomsic said. “If the airport is closed, it’s highly likely we will end up in court for at least some of the leases that we have.”

Tomsic said the city will release a summary of Sitkin’s findings to the public after the meeting.

“We want to share with the public what the estimates are with regards to closing the airport,” he said. “We know that conditions of the grants we’ve taken from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s state aviation division that if we close the airport, we have to pay them back. So we know a certain amount of the cost is going to be to repay the state grants. We also know there are some long-term leases at the airport. So if we shut the airport down, then we’re going to have to deal with breaking those leases, as well as the possible litigation that arises from that.”

When asked when he thinks the city council is expected to make a decision on the adoption of the airport master plan, Tomsic said he couldn’t say, although it might appear on the November ballot.
“The first thing (the council) has to decide is how is that decision going to be made,” he said. “They have to decide if the council is going to make the decision themselves or if they going to put it on a ballot.”

The airport commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m., Friday, September 15.

Planning commission meetings

The Blaine Planning Commission has scheduled a series of meetings regarding two recent planned unit developments.

• A work session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 14 at city hall will review Trillium’s 64-unit single-family Carnoustie development planned for Semiahmoo, east of Bald Eagle Drive.

• A work session at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 28 will review a conditional use permit application for the 12-unit, three-story condominium project 3 Knots at Land’s End proposed for 1590 Peace Portal Drive.

Both projects can be viewed in detail at www.ci.blaine.wa.us. For more information, call 332-8311.